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szdaily -> Budding Writers -> 
Odysseus: A great raider and a great leader
    2016-06-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    In Book IX of “The Odyssey,” after Odysseus and his men leave the island of Kyklops, Odysseus proudly declares that he is the “raider of cities.” Odysseus is not boasting because his Trojan horse helped the Greeks conquer Troy, one of the greatest cities at that time. However, apart from being a raider, Odysseus is also an outstanding leader. If “The Iliad” is about Odysseus the raider, then “The Odyssey” is about Odysseus the leader.

    In Book XII, Odysseus proves himself to be an intelligent leader because he knows when to keep the dangers ahead secret and when to warn his men about potential threats. When Odysseus’ crew is about to row past the territory of the Seirenes, Odysseus tells them about these horrible creatures and their haunting songs so that his men are well prepared for them. He also “[carries] wax along the line, and [lays] it thick on their ears.” By doing this, Odysseus protects all his men from the deadly Seirenes, which is exactly what a wise leader should do.

    However, Odysseus does not tell his crew everything he knows even though he is informed by the goddess Kirke of all the threats on the way. When the crew is about to face the dreadful sea monster Skylla, who is going to devour six men on the ship, Odysseus chooses not to tell them anything, because he thinks “they [will] have dropped their oars again, in panic, to roll for cover under the decking.”

    A leader sometimes must make tough decisions for the benefit of the whole team, and Odysseus makes one right here. Instead of making the whole crew worry about which six of them are going to die, he alone bears the pain of knowing that he will lose his friends. This is the responsibility of a good leader, and Odysseus does so to prove that he is capable of being such a leader.

    Apart from his wise leadership, Odysseus is also a leader who can stay calm in danger and cheer his men up when their spirits are low. After the crew passes the Seirenes, the men on board hear a sound and are so terrified that “oars [fly] from their hands.” However, Odysseus is not afraid and “[walks] up and down from bow to stern, trying to put heart into them.” When a team starts to panic, it is important that their leader calms his teammates down. Odysseus is this type of leader. He also encourages them by saying, “Friends, have we never been in danger before this? More fearsome, is it now, than when the Kyklops penned us in his cave? What power he had! Did I not keep my nerve, and use my wits to find a way out for us? Now I say by hook or crook this peril too shall be something that we remember. Heads up, lads!”

    Odysseus tells his crew that he will be their protector; therefore, they shall have no fear. A good leader is willing to be responsible for his followers, and Odysseus does so as well, which matches his identity as a great leader. On their journey home from Troy to Ithaca, Odysseus leads his men through many perils on the sea. He tries his best to make the right choices for his team, and he never forsakes them even if they are cursed by the gods. He cares for them and protects them. This is what makes Odysseus the raider a great leader.

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